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“Listen with Your Eyes”

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When our daughter Katie was 10 years old or so, she proceeded to tell me about her school day, while I was busy getting dinner ready. I nodded and replied with my usual “uh-huhs” at what I thought were the appropriate instances. Those instances were in between her breaths and in between my chopping of vegetables. I tried to get the vegetables chopped while trying to listen, but Katie noticed my lack of attention. She abruptly stopped talking, looked at me and said, “Mom, you’re not listening with your eyes.”

It was a true statement, which made me think back to the best piece of advice I’ve ever received. The advice was from my husband’s grandmother. She once told me to “Always listen to your children no matter what you’re doing. If you do that, you shouldn’t have any problems. It worked for me,” she said. Plus, the words “listen with your eyes” are from an old song sung by Peggy Lee entitled, I Can Sing a Rainbow. When I was younger, I played that tune so many times on my Mom and Dad’s phonograph it got embedded into my memory. Once the song was over, I lifted the arm and situated the needle back to the beginning of that song. At that time, I didn’t know it would become a favorite lullaby for me to share in my future days with my lovely children. I didn’t think of it as a lullaby back when I played it on the phonograph. I mostly liked how Ms. Lee sang the song, which is quite different from her other tunes.

I said, “You’re right, Katie.” I left the vegetables by themselves and sat down at the kitchen table next to her. I looked into her eyes and said, “I’m listening now.” Dinner got on the table a little later than usual, but I heard every word. I’m unable to recall what the conversation was about, but I remember it was important. It reminded me to listen with my eyes.

Have you ever heard that old song? I like how it gets sung to our grandchildren now! You never know when you’re learning something even if you’re just doing it for fun… What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“Silent” and “listen” are spelled with the same letters. ~Author unknown

P.S. Today, I couldn’t think of anything to write, so I went to Writer’s Digest Presents A Year of Writing Prompts, by Brian A. Klem and Zachary Pettit. “April 24 – What’s the Best Advice You’ve Received? Everyone is always offering advice on everything. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?”

How the Rabbits Turned Out

This Velvet Bunny pattern turned out better than the Valentine Bears I crocheted earlier this year. The grandkids hugged the rabbits as happily as they hugged the bears, but I felt better about how the rabbits turned out. The bears ended up having wobbly necks. Thankfully, Hugs Straighten Everything Out and the kids didn’t seem to mind that the bears were not perfect nor did they notice any imperfections of the rabbits.

The pattern (link above) was easy to follow and had many pictures to help the process. I didn’t embroider a nose, as indicated in the pattern, but used the safety eyes and nose instead. Next I plan to crochet a doll! We will see how that turns out. 🙂

And in today already walks tomorrow. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Eggs in One Basket

My creation is at the top, slightly left of middle, with a pink center!

As long as I can remember, we’ve colored eggs by gathering coffee mugs and placing the little dye capsule in each mug. We added vinegar, water, and the boiled egg and waited for the eggs to turn different colors. Sometimes we dunked the eggs in different cups, which made them look psychedelic. This year, we tried something different with our grandchildren. We used the Eggmazing Easter Egg Decorator Kit. The egg spins around inside the contraption while the artist holds the marker, which dyes the eggs to make different designs. It was fun entertainment that lasted a long while. There were no cups to wash or a big mess to clean up afterwards.

Our grandkids were very proud of their creations. Papa and Grandma each got to color our own egg. We were happy to watch the kids have fun, but later next week, Papa and I will boil eggs and make our own!

Easter is the only time when it’s perfectly safe to put all of your eggs in one basket. ~Evan Esar

Our Little Conductor

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This week, our daughter visited us with her two children for a few days. We invited our other daughter and son-in-law over for St. Patrick’s Day dinner. After a tasty dinner of Irish stew, green jello, rolls, and shamrock butter cookies, the boys went outside to hit a golfball around in the melting piles of snow. The girls stayed in and chatted around the dinner table. Our granddaughter sat in front of us, the brightest centerpiece ever to adorn our table. My two daughters and I began to sing songs with her. Granddaughter acted as our conductor and sang along with us. Her favorite song that day was “Happy Birthday.” We sang the song many times. Granddaughter’s bright blue eyes shone with her cheeks puffed up in a smile, looking as though she was happy to be the centerpiece. Once the song was finished, Granddaughter “blew out” the battery-operated candle, with her mom’s perfect timing of flipping the off switch. The minute the candle was “blown out,” Granddaughter immediately said, “Again.” The candle got switched on, and we started the song from the beginning. Singing the song many times didn’t seem like a broken record. We were happy to follow her instructions and enjoyed each little vignette.

Our singing went on until our conductor was ready to explore other opportunities. The first thing she found was the bottom of the candle and how the switch operated. Once she figured that out, we were off to the other room where all the toys waited. None of us wondered how she managed to wrap us all around her little finger. We followed our little conductor to see where her curiosity would lead us.

While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

No Replacement for Spam

Spam Classic Canned Meat

About a year ago is when the shelves at the grocery store looked unattended, when actually there were shortages. There were either shortages of people being able to put items on the shelves, quickly enough, or shortages of people being able to process food and many other reasons. There were only a few times I had to substitute something with another item. It’s nice to see the shelves filling up at the store now.

Imagine my surprise this week, when I walked down the canned meat aisle and couldn’t find Spam. All the other shelves were pretty well attended, except for where the Spam usually sits. There were some cans of turkey Spam and Spam with Bacon, but that’s not the classic Spam we usually pick up about once or twice a year.

We checked another store – no Spam. When I went in search of Spam on the Internet, I learned there’s a shortage due to the pandemic. Demand is very high. Right when I was appreciating fuller shelves, Spam went missing. There is obviously no replacement for Spam. Thankfully, when we checked Target, we found three cans and we happily purchased one. My husband likes to make what he calls “Spams.” Here’s the recipe:

Spams
1-12 ounce can of classic Spam
1-8 ounce brick of cheddar cheese, mild (use about 3/4 of a brick)
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayo or Miracle Whip
1 dozen hamburger buns
Meat grinder

Cut the Spam, brick of cheese, and onion in quarters and alternately rotate through meat grinder into a large bowl. After the mixture is ground together, stir to mix, and add enough mayo until it sticks together well, but don’t overdo it. Spoon mixture to cover an open faced bun. Place open faced bun face side up under broiler and broil until cheese is melted. Make as many as you want. Store unused portion of Spams in the refrigerator. Use up leftovers within three days.

Lila loves the crumbs that fall to the floor, which happens during preparation. A little taste for dogs is okay, but I wouldn’t give Lila a bunch. That could lead to disastrous consequences.

My husband’s mom made these when her kids were younger and now my husband is carrying on the tradition. Some of our children do not care for Spams, but I find them to be just as delicious as Lila believes them to be! Do you have any favorite Spam recipes? If so, please share in the comments!

“Ah, Interesting”

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During the cold snap, we didn’t take Lila outside for a walk, except for one day when the temperature got to be ten degrees above zero. A couple of days before, we went shopping for dog booties. Lila’s paws weren’t used to the subzero temperatures. Arctic blasts never used to bother her but now that she’s almost 12-years-old, the cold took its toll on her. After her outdoor potty breaks, she had a hard time walking back to the house. Her rear paw couldn’t bare the bite of the cold any longer. She held her back paw high to keep it off the crunchy snow. We found a small pet store not far from our house, which had a large selection of booties.

”Hello. What’s your return policy?” I asked the man who worked there. “In case these boots don’t fit our dog.”

”Since it’s nearing the end of the season, we’d like to get them back within the week. We’d like them back without any scuff marks.”

”Ok, thanks. These should work,” I said.

”Make sure to wrap them snug, so they don’t slip off. Have your dog walk close to you. It’s best if they don’t run.” I nodded yes while I thought about the times our other dog lost one bootie here and then another bootie there while we were on our walks. “Try to keep your dog out of snow banks too, because they fall off and then there’s no way you can find it.” Been there and done that too, I thought. Where was this guy 20 years ago, when I bought booties for our dog, Music?

We purchased the boots, which practically cost more than what I paid for mine, and went home. The next morning, with the temperature still hovering below zero, I fastened them onto Lila. I wrapped the Velcro as tightly as I could. Lila pranced about trying to get used to the feeling and probably wondered how to get them off. Each step was a quick jaunt of touching the floor then lifting her paw back up again. I sent her outside where she continued her prancing style. At times, she reminded me of a bucking bronco. One of the booties fell off and landed on top of the snow, which sent me out in my parka to retrieve it.

Lila didn’t feel much better about the booties when I put them on her before our walk that afternoon. After we got outside, she ran and hopped in every snow bank on the way. When we got to the trail, Lila excitedly ran up to a chocolate lab and a yellow lab. Lila usually doesn’t get close to other dogs. It was like she wanted one of them to get the strange things off. The other dogs didn’t wear booties and their owner didn’t have them on leashes. The labs were being walked by a young man who asked, “Do you feed your dog that corn?” My husband had a plastic bag of corn from Gag Gift Gone Good. My husband didn’t hear him, with all the commotion of trying to settle Lila down.

”We feed the squirrels,” I said. Since it was quite cold, I didn’t tell him the story of Gag Gift Gone Good.

”It’s really bad for dogs’ digestive systems,” he said. “They’ve been finding it over there by those trees,” he pointed the way.

”Oh, sorry. We won’t put it out there any more,” my husband and I chimed as we continued on our way. I thought how if he had his dogs on leashes, he could prevent them from going over by the corn, but I didn’t say anything. Maybe he didn’t see the sign that says dogs must be leashed. We said we’d dump the corn in the marsh, but we ended up throwing it in the garbage.

”Oops,” I said to my husband. Oh well. At least the booties stayed on. 🙂

Never say, “oops.” Always say, “Ah, interesting.” ~Author unknown

Fire Station Turkey

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The other day, my husband and I were heading home after running errands. We decided to take the side streets. We drove by the fire station, and suddenly, the car in front of us slowed down and veered to the left. It looked like there was a large garbage bag sitting in the road. When we got closer, we noticed that a turkey got hit and killed. I thought there was a vulture circling around it, on the ground, but as we got closer, I recognized it was another turkey. The turkey that survived circled the one that died, while it ruffled its feathers and bobbed its head. It was very sad to see. The turkey lost its friend. ☹️

Later this week, I read through some Nextdoor postings, and there was one about the Fire Station Turkeys. The initial post informed people about the death of one of the Fire Station Turkeys and how sad they were that the turkey got killed. The turkeys have a lot of fans who live over by the fire station. Several comments ensued. The initial comments continued on in the same vein. Some people were quick to judge and assumed the turkey had been run over intentionally. My first thoughts were how lucky these people must be. Have they never gotten into an accident? Sometimes, when you’re driving, you have to make a snap decision and go the route that’s going to cause the least damage. It seemed like a long while of scrolling before I got to the part where someone said they knew the driver. The driver felt bad about running over the turkey. The lady then stated, “It was an accident.”

I’m guaranteed to learn something new, when I read through the Nextdoor posts. Others commented about how a bunch of turkeys live in a nearby yard where someone feeds them. The two turkeys that were on the road were both males. One lady posted that the circling around of the one that’s gone, is how turkeys have their funerals. The comment that made me smile was when a young lady posted how she liked seeing all this concern for the turkeys and that maybe people will think twice before eating one this Thanksgiving. 🙂

It was a sorry sight to see the turkey hovering and dancing around the other one. Hopefully the people who made hasty comments about the incident being intentional, read the rest of the comments to see that they were mistaken.

As long as the world is turning and spinning,
we’re gonna be dizzy and we’re gonna make mistakes. ~Mel Brooks

Hugs Straighten Everything Out!

Looks better in a photo than in real life!

Months ago, I found a pattern on Pinterest for a Valentine’s Bear. It’s so cute, I decided to try to make one for each of my grandkids. I felt like I was doing a good job of getting the stitches right, but when I sewed the pieces together, they looked crooked. Plus, the heads were floppy. After completing the two bears, I looked up the reviews on the pattern, and many people commented on how the bear’s head was too big for its body, and that they were having a hard time getting the head to sit up straight. (Note to self: Read reviews before attempting any patterns.)

Projects likes these are an investment in time. It’s difficult when it doesn’t turn out the way you like. I sorta felt like tossing the little bears in the trash, because they weren’t perfect, like the picture on the pattern. Then I thought how everything doesn’t have to be perfect, and that maybe they would love them because their grandma made it. I wrapped the bears in gift bags and gave them to the grandkids yesterday.

My little granddaughter hugged the bear tight, close to her neck, which warmed my heart. She called it bunny, and pointed to her brother’s bear and said her brother’s name. She wanted to let us know he got one too. “Heart,” she said, when she pointed to the chest.

My grandson liked his bear too. “It’s so soft,” he said, when he hugged it. “How did you make it, Grandma?” he asked.

”I crocheted it.” The bear got a good looking over and another hug. Funny how the bear’s head doesn’t flop around when it’s being hugged! Hugs straighten everything out, right?

Most of the time, I work on simple blankets, so I can stitch away, without counting or keeping track of stitches. Once you learn the pattern, it sticks in your mind and becomes automatic. Whatever! Now I think I’m going to try to crochet a bunny, because Easter is on its way. I found a pattern that has good reviews! Besides, practice makes perfect.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤️

It is not the gift, but the thought that counts. ~Henry van Dyke, Jr.

Gag Gift Gone Good

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Every Christmas my husband and his cousin exchange gag gifts. The tradition of this exchange began many years ago, when my husband picked up a little plastic snow globe from Walgreens to give to Cousin. Cousin gifted it back the next year, and it got passed back and forth for years. I’m not sure where the snow globe is now. I think it got gifted to someone in the next generation a few years back. The globe is old and tattered and almost dried up. There have been many silly gifts over the years. Once Husband gave Cousin a Justin Bieber Christmas ornament, which was like a boomerang. It came back the next year.

This year, since we weren’t going to celebrate Christmas with Cousin and his family, Husband decided not to get a gag gift. What’s the point of a gag gift, if you’re not going to see each other? I asked our daughter and her husband to drop off our gifts at Cousin’s house. When they did, Cousin had some gifts to give to our family as well.

On Christmas Day, Daughter dropped off one of the gag gifts from Cousin in the garage and gave Husband the other gag gift. The one that made it into the house, was a gallon can of peanuts. We haven’t had to buy peanuts for a while! When all the commotion of Christmas wound down, we took a good look at the gag gift taking residence in our garage. It was a 50-pound bag of Nature’s Own Wild Life Food. It contains whole corn.

What in the world are we going to do with this big bag of food, we thought as we exchanged conversations about it for a few days. I didn’t want to scatter it around our yard, because I didn’t want to attract animals. I had visions of turkeys, deer, squirrels, and rabbits all over the place. Since we have a garden, I have a difficult time keeping our little furry friends from eating any flowers or plants that might grow there. We don’t need more critters in our yard, even if it is winter. They might decide to stay.

We thought about dropping it off at a nature center, because keeping it in the garage also gave me the willies. The garage is a place where mice like to visit. At night, I dreamt of parading lines of mice running to and fro in our garage, each one carrying a kernel and building a nest somewhere.

We eventually decided to bring the corn down to the park where we walk our dog. We brought about a pint and dropped it far away from anyone’s house, close to the marshland. The next day, we checked the pile of corn to see if any creatures noticed it. There was not much activity. The day after, we noticed that the stash was getting smaller. After seeing much of the corn gone, Husband packed up more in a plastic bag, and we dropped it off in the same location. We’ve had this routine for about a month now. Pretty soon the bag will be empty.

We noticed tracks in the snow from squirrels and rabbits. We thought deer would make an appearance, but we have not seen their tracks. No wild turkey prints are on the scene either. During our last walk, we made sure to get a bunch of corn to the spot before the cold snap kicked in. We also try to drop off a bunch when snow is in the forecast. A few times, we’ve seen a squirrel running from the pile up a tree. He doesn’t look overly plump, but he seems happy.

When the bag of corn is gone, will we buy another? Gosh, I feel like that squirrel is counting on us now. 🙂 It’s funny how we fretted over the gag gift and how it’s turned into a fun activity. It was a gag gift gone good!

Well, it may be humorous to you, but it’s a very serious matter to the squirrels. ~Lisa Kleypas

A Book Review: “The Magnolia Story”

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The Magnolia Story is written by Joanna Gaines in one font, with Chip Gaines chiming-in in another font and co-authored with Mark Dagostino. Chip and Joanna tell the story of how they met and take the reader along on their journey together through dating, their engagement story, wedding day, and family life. It was interesting to learn the ups and downs of their businesses and how they work together.

In the beginning of the book, Joanna describes herself as being introverted, and she talks about how she thinks she could have been happy with the way things were going in her life, before she met Chip. She didn’t mind being on her own and enjoyed working at her father’s tire company. Right before she met Chip, she was trying to decide if she should go back to New York City to pursue her career in communications.

One day at work, the guys Joanna worked with, egged her on to go talk to one of the customers. Her co-workers thought this guy would be a good match for Joanna. Joanna refused but after a while gave in and embarrassed herself by trying to talk to this cute guy. She leaves the building to go outside where she finds Chip sitting on a bench. She sits beside him, and they talk for a while. She doesn’t really think much about the conversation after it’s over. She just thought about how Chip was blessed with the gift of gab and how she didn’t really get a good look at him because he was wearing a baseball cap. Chip calls Joanna soon after they met, and Joanna often wonders why she was so agreeable to being with Chip. She usually had doubts before dating someone and didn’t really have much experience with dating.

Chip is always on the go and working to advance his businesses. When they’re first married, they move into one of Chip’s rental properties, and Joanna comes up with some designs, and they fix it up together. Joanna ends up loving what they’ve done to the place. Just when Joanna is ready to settle in, Chip buys a new property for them to flip. The house flipping is a common theme throughout the book, of course! I personally felt bad for Joanna when they had to move out of their beautiful Victorian home, with four kids, because Chip bought a new place for them to flip. It turned out to be a good decision in the long run, even though Joanna had a hard time accepting it at first.

The story also tells readers how they got discovered for their series Fixer Upper. Chip and Joanna didn’t even know about reality TV, because they didn’t own a TV. They asked friends what it was all about. Things that happened in their lives seemed to have worked out for the best. Joanna shares some of the obstacles she’s had to face and how she overcame them, with regard to her experiences with balancing work and raising a family. They both share their trust and faith in God, which they talk about in snippets throughout the book, in a down-to-earth way. Their goal of bringing attention to and supporting their community in Waco, Texas has definitely blossomed.

I rarely watch shows on HGTV, but I liked learning about Chip and Joanna’s lives. If you like inspirational, humorous, and uplifting stories, give The Magnolia Story a try. 🙂